MY FIRST ZINE was all about a boy. I had a giant crush on the fella, and he made zines, so I decided I should make zines. This would be a super cute story if I had been 13, but the truth is I was 32. I have a lot of regret about that whole situation, and I feel like I was annoying, clingy, pushy, needy. To be honest, I ruined what was once a genuinely great friendship, and it could have been great again if I’d just gotten over the fact that he didn’t want to date and/or bone me.
The one thing I do not regret is starting to make zines. It’s been about 10 years and I still love making zines, talking about zines, and teaching others to make zines. I also like that I can look at my zines and see my progress as a human. I read my first four zines, Brilliant Mistake, and they are so damn sad. I hadn’t started dealing with the serious depression that I would later end up needing meds and tons of therapy to manage. I was immature when it came to dating. I had body image issues galore. I was a mess. By the time I was over the whole guy-doesn’t-want-me situation, I was four zines in. I decided it was time to change titles and start a new perzine, because I felt a new stage in my life was starting.
I wrote the first issue of My Aim Is True as I was beginning to date a lot, realized I was queer, and dig into therapy… and Lexapro. I have 12 issues now, and if I look back, I’m so proud of the progress I have made in learning to accept and love myself. In Brilliant Mistake, I’m lost and not sure of myself. Through the course of My Aim Is True, I started to figure out who I am and gain confidence.
Making zines has helped me grow as a person. I never thought I would be confident enough to stand on a stage and read a story, but I’ve done it many times. The first time I read on stage, I was terrified; my stomach hurt, sweat pooled along my hairline, and my mouth was bone dry. But as I kept reading, and when people started to laugh in the right places, my pulse slowed down and I started to relax. I was an organizer for the second Chicago Zine Fest, which gave me experience organizing and planning a big event. Tabling at zine fests has helped me become more comfortable talking with strangers and making friends. I’ve also travelled to places that I may not have if I hadn’t discovered zine-making. Sharing my stories has helped me be okay with being vulnerable. Sharing my stories has also helped me see that I’m not alone in my weirdness. I get letters and emails from people who enjoy my zines! It’s flattering, and I do hope to make art that people can relate to, and that helps them feel a little less alone. But honestly, I make zines because they make me feel better.
Making a zine is a kind of therapy for me. I think about what I’m going to write for a long time and then it spills out. Once something is written, I let it sit for a day or so, and then go back to it to edit. Next comes my favourite part of making a zine: cutting and pasting. I cut and paste the whole zine then photocopy the thick pages.
When I am sitting at the table with paper, scissors and a glue stick, I am truly, supremely happy.